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Tijuana Homicides Reach Record Level In 2016

Tijuana Homicides Reach Record Level In 2016
Tijuana Homicides Reach Record Level In 2016 GUEST: Octavio Rodriguez, program coordinator, Justice in Mexico Project at University of San Diego

The new year begins with some bad news for the city of Tijuana. Last year's homicide rate of 910 victims is a record making 2016 the most violent year in Tijuana's history. The reason for the violence is apparently drugs but this time the methods and the victims are different than in Baja's drug cartel role -- war a few years ago. This news comes as a bloated Tijuana's efforts to recover lost tourism and business investment and being fine itself as a cultural and innovation center. Joining me as program coordinator for the justice and Mexico project at the University of San Diego. Welcome to the program. Back in 2008 a drug cartel war was raging and more than 840 people were killed in Tijuana. Then things seem to calm down in recent years. What is the reason for this surge in violence. The official theory is that one of the groups that was fighting other cartel organizations in Tijuana managed to control drug trafficking routes in the region and markets in general. We all know about some of the strategies conducted appointing general -- soldier to Tijuana and that followed a series of complaint about corruption and the police force in Tijuana. That has eased in recent years. The authorities argued that the control of one organization over another -- and it will increase criminality as a whole So what is the reason for this record number of homicides in 2016? The group that was able to assert this power is now again fighting against its older rival organization but also there is another player in the game the new generation Jalisco cartel is allegedly operated in the area right now so it seems like now there are three smaller organizations fighting to control not only Tijuana but also other border crossings in Baja California. Back in 2008 at the height of the drug cartel wars there were dramatic shootouts in Tijuana. There were awful stories of mutilated bodies. That is not what we heard about last year. How are the killings of 2016 different from those of 2008. Authority said the most violence occurring right now than in previous year is due to low scale drug distribution rather than high skilled international drug trafficking. That is why most of the violence is located out of the center of the state -- city in the outskirts. Also that's a consequence of many organizations. And the many organizations that was on 2008 and 2009 but also more violent and less predictable. The violence became participatory and multi polar so many many actors are fighting for many many reasons been drug trafficking not the only cause also other criminal activities such as extortion and kidnapping and robbery. They have seen different patterns of violence this year than in the past couple of years where more divided are more spread organizations fighting to control smaller portions of turf. For part of the work you do and UFT the justice department reports -- publishes an annual report on crime and all of Mexico. Based on Masters report he found an increase on homicide rates across mess -- Mexico. Is this violence also related to drug violence? It has been the case. Drug violence has not been tempered at all. It has not moved. Now team to have spread and moved south we see high levels of violence in the state of Mexico. It might be that the change in power and Mexico managed to at least pause for a little bit but it did not change the operations. Have the talked about what steps they would like to take a crack down on the reason violence? Local authority that the mayor had sort of measures mainly to address police in Tijuana because that is one of the main complaints against local authorities that the police are not responding properly to the task. That may be due to lack of capacity and technology but also corruption and also a study we did in 2015 on the Police Department we found one of the best educated police and it can be solved easily by comprehensive policy and that certainly can have an impact and any strategy or performance Nine out of -- 910 homicides in one year is a problem itself but it seems Tijuana has a -- like a problem because they have been trying to make a comeback. It supposed to be a cultural Mecca now a hub of innovation and bring back to us and business investors. Do you think this news will hurt this effort. Tourism especially coming from the United States might feel insecure and not willing to come to Tijuana but we must remember that one of the consequences of the spike in violence the previous years was that Tijuana became a local tourist destination for people from Mexico started to come to Tijuana because of the cultural offer is the culinary experience. Insofar as international tourism decreases in my -- it may affect somehow but now it seems to be a very sustainable economy by itself. I have been speaking with Octavio Rodriguez program coordinator with the justice and Mexico project at the University of San Diego thank you very much. Thank you.

Tijuana was the site of more than 900 homicides in 2016, Baja California’s attorney general said Monday. That makes 2016 the most violent year in Tijuana's history.

The previous record was 844 killings in 2008. The increase in killings is due, in part, to fighting between the rising Jalisco New Generation Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel for control of the cross-border drug trade in Tijuana.

The city has been struggling since 2008 to rebuild its reputation around culinary arts and innovation in manufacturing. Rising violence could represent a setback in terms of Tijuana's ability to attract tourists and investors.


"The key challenge for Tijuana's authorities and city leaders is that they've spent a great deal of effort in trying to establish Tijuana as a safe and vibrant city," said David Shirk of the University of San Diego's Justice in Mexico initiative. "It's very disheartening to see those efforts sullied by a resurgence of this violence."

The new homicide rate — 45 per 100,000 people — makes it one of Mexico's most dangerous cities.

The main difference between killings in 2016 and killings in 2008 is visibility. Eight years ago, downtown restaurants and bars were regular scenes of violence. Now, killings are concentrated in the outskirts of Tijuana, in low-income neighborhoods.

Shirk said officials need to change their focus from the drug war toward improving the economy.

"At the end of the day, if you’re not doing something to get young men who are 18 to 30 years old to be gainfully and happily employed and to have a sense of duty and responsibility in their communities, you will not have peace," he said.


December was the most violent month of the year, with 112 homicides. In 2015, homicides in Tijuana totaled 652. The city's rising violence is part of a nationwide trend. Last year was Mexico's most violent since Enrique Peña Nieto became president.

Jose Maria Ramos, a public affairs investigator at Mexico's border research institute Colef, said Tijuana's new administration needs to increase collaboration with civic associations. He said the strategy worked to reduce Juarez's homicides significantly in recent years.

"The civic participation is not being seen in Tijuana," he said, adding that it is key for reducing corruption and impunity.